On May 17 and 18, a group of 24 outstanding emerging social innovators gathered from across the province to kick off a new program called Hook it Up (HiU).
Held in Toronto and Sault Ste. Marie, the two kick-off events offered youth participants a great opportunity to become inspired by their peers, share their vision for social change, and get started with the program. The opening celebration also created a foundation of relationships so that participants could feel comfortable reaching out, online and in-person, to other participants for peer support over the next few months.
Under HiU, youth 18-35 years old can access a “buffet” of supports on an as needed basis. HiU provides access to $1,500 in financial support, peer and expert mentorship, and various learning resources that will help youth:
- Test a new idea for supporting an emerging business or community impact project;
- Identify how to continue moving forward their project idea and personal development after HiU ends; and,
- Build professional networks, knowledge, and skills.
Funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation, Hook it Up is a truly unique effort involving unprecedented collaboration among the Socent7, a group of Ontario-based social enterprise organizations, including CatalystsX, Communitech, Social Entrepreneurship Evolution (SEE), Manifesto, SoJo, and SSE.
As HiU participants experiment with their projects, the Socent7 team is immersed in an experiment of its own as we work to deliver a program based on our collective expertise and assets. Out of the norm for the social enterprise sector, a large group of organizations is contributing different programming elements to the overall effort.
For instance, SEE organized the gathering of the northern participants and is setting up a series of webinars. CatalystsX, Manifesto, SoJo, and SSE helped organize the southern Ontario kickoff in Toronto and will be offering other supports including mentorship, financial management of the startup grants, and various skills-building modules.
Going forward, Communitech is funding the creation of stories about each HiU participant. These in-depth articles will be shared on the Socent7’s collective story telling blog called “There’s Another Story Out There”.
SSE is proud to say that four SSE alumni (Darren Brown ’15, Marilee D’Arceuil ’15, Jacky Habib ’15, and Sanjin Zeco ’15) have found a place in the HiU program. Stay tuned for their stories to appear on the Socent7 blog, but here’s a quick preview of what our alumni are working on:
- Darren is building an initiative that forges solidarity and strength in First Nations and African Diaspora communities.
- Marilee is building a community for those overcoming addiction and working to develop their mental health.
- Jacky recently launched New Lens Travel and is recruiting participants; and,
- Sanjin is using technology to increase accessibility of urban spaces to people living with physical disabilities.
Launching a new social change initiative is not easy, and often requires money, guidance, and lots of trial-and-error. Fortunately, for these young social innovators, they can expect all of those things in their future. Hook it Up concludes on September 21.
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